A serious dinner affair in Jordan begins with a series of Mezze (small appetizers) and I tried to prepare as many as I could find recipes for plus hummus and dolma (stuffed grape leaves) that I bought already made. The other 6 I made from scratch.
Just as I finished preparing the table and lighting a few candles just before my friends arrived, I realized that I didn't have any bread that could have been used as a vehicle to eat the hummus and babaganoush so I rummaged through my fridge and found some flat bread (flatout, 3 weight watchers points per serving) which is similar in consistency to pita so I decided to cut it up and toast it. Except that my toaster oven decided to play up and so just as Laurel and Pat came in the house, the kitchen was filling up with smoke! Thankfully, we managed to ventilate enough and avoid the fire alarm from going off but it meant that there was a lovely smoky flavor to the house and it's not exactly what you want to smell when you go to dinner at a friend's home... My frantic "hi, nice to see you, thanks for coming, I burned the toast not the whole dinner" welcomes were pretty much repeated for the next 5 minutes as Jan then Jeff then Dan and Peter arrived.
Since there were too many of us to sit in our living room, I asked that we went straight to the dining table and while Eric played host (poor guy is suffering from severe jetlag from his recent trip to Singapore so I really appreciated the efforts he made not to fall flat faced on the dining table), I moved to the kitchen to "tart up" my Mezze. This time, even Kako would have been pleased with my efforts at decorating the dishes. I'm not remotely close to hers or Kyiomi's style (I am sure I am offending someone right this moment who I should be mentioning but I am not, so sorry but you're not coming up to my mind - I'll be sure to thank you in my Oscar acceptance speech) but I am getting better.
The Mezze consisted, as I mentioned already, of 8 small dishes:
- Hummus (store bought - very nice)
- Dolma (stuffed grape leaves - from a can purchased by Eric at a Persian store)
- Babaganoush - eggplant spread. I made this one. The recipe called for 3 small eggplants that needed to be charred over the fire first and then cooked in the oven until they collapsed on themselves. I made this on Friday night and it took quite a long time. It was very nice though. Nice and fluffy as Peter commented and most everyone (except Pat) really liked it.
Finally - although by now everyone was severely full and pleasantly drunk, except for Jan and Laurel who is off the booze for the next 9 months - it was time for dessert: kunafa is made with kataifi and stuffed with cheese. Kataifi, I've learned, is the name of that vermicelli like pastry that is often found stuffed with nuts in Middle Eastern food stores. Eric found it frozen in the Persian market. It simply is filo dough that has been shredded to thin noodles. It's not easy to work with but not as difficult as I had imagined either. The stuffing was a combination of ricotta and mozzarella (ok, these are Italian cheeses... what gives?) and then it was covered with nuts and raisins on the top as decorations. It was nice but not the best part of the meal. I liked it though, particularly the scent and flavor of rose water. Just a little bit really goes a long way...
The goody bags contained pickled eggplants (maghdoos), dates and baklava.
Here is the menu with the scores:
Ful Medames 7.9
Overall Dinner 8.3
Whilst my dinners are most certainly about eating different foods (things you wouldn't think of perhaps having in your own home for instance), they also are about getting together with friends. And last night was no exception: it was lovely to see Dan and Peter, Jeff (who absolutely loved everything, he said it was the best of my dinners he'd been to date), Jan, Laurel and Pat and find out about what goes on in their lives. I was exhausted at the end of the night but not as much as Eric who passed out on the bed with the radio and the light on, half dressed and with dental floss wrapped around his finger... thankfully, I noticed this and unwrapped it just as the finger was turning a suspicious shade of black.
Next is K. It should be Kiribati but who knows if I'll be able to find any recipes from this tiny country in the South Pacific?